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KFC-style light fluffy biscuits?

My dad loves the biscuits from KFC. I can make some good homemade biscuits, however the look and texture is completely different from these. Mine are flaky and tender though crusty on the outside, KFC's are lighter and more pillowy. I've done some web searches and all the recipes I come across have basically the same ingredients - flour, butter or shortening, salt, baking powder, milk or buttermilk, and sometimes sugar. I've also seen recipes that call for White Lily self-rising flour, which we don't have in the Northwest. Pic #1 is KFC's biscuits, pic #2 is basically how mine turn out. Anyone have a recipe that yields a softer, fluffier biscuit?

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  1. Hi gmm:
    A few things occur. There are better and more experienced bakers here, though; and they may weigh in later to tell you I'm nuts.
    1. Those are some amazing' biscuits you turn out, girlfriend. I WISH. 2. Using White Lily will only make them better - in a way not in keeping with the results you've got in mind. 3. When you mix your biscuits, at the point where you are incorporating fat into flour, make the crumb just a little finer than you ordinarily would; and have the butter at room temp; not ice cold. Then, when you've done them and cut them, give them a good wash, 1 egg/1T. water; that'll seal them and make a crunchy top and guarantee a moister interior. Good luck.

    1. I agree w/ mamachef--those are biscuits you make look good!. The best hint I've gotten for making light fluffy biscuits is to cut the fat into the flour w/ your fingers. You can control how gently it's being mixed then. My favorite recipe for fluffy biscuits is from the Best Recipe and it uses a mix of AP flour and cake flour (probably replicating the lightness of White Lily type flour).

      1 c ap flour
      1 c cake flour
      2 tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp baking soda
      1 tsp sugar
      8 tbsp butter (1 stick) chilled and cut into 1/4" cubes (plus 2tbsp buttter for brushing on top)
      1/4 c buttermilk (can also use yogurt plus 2 tbsp but I've only used buttermilk)
      2-3 tbsp buttermilk, as needed

      Preheat oven to 450. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt (I whisk). W/ fingertips, gently mix until you have coarse meal w/ some larger butter lumps. Stir in buttermilk to form soft sticky ball. Sprinkle w/ additional buttermilk if dry and firm. Flour hands and divide into 12 pieces. Lightly pat each one to form ball. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 1" apart. Brush w/ melted butter. Bake 10-12 mins.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Sorry, just noticed the typo. Should be 3/4 c buttermilk, not 1/4.

        1. re: chowser

          Your directions call for salt, but your ingredients do not say how much. Thank you.

        2. My recipe is similar to Chowser's but doesn't use cake flour. The use of both baking powder and baking soda, plus buttermilk, yields soft, fluffy results. Another key for softness: No rolling them out. You form them into balls and bake in a round cake pan.

          I once traveled 1,000 miles to eat a biscuit. (To the Loveless Cafe in Nashville area.) I searched high and low to find a soft, fluffy biscuit recipe that could compare to the cafe's gems. Epic fail for years UNTIL I came across this recipe. No need to travel, now I can make my own awesome biscuits.

          P.S. I originally got the recipe from Cook's Illustrated, Aug. 2004 issue. The recipe is all over the web though.


          3 Replies
          1. re: TrishUntrapped

            If you go to the link above -- which leads to a very yummy looking recipe -- you will see a listing for other biscuit recipes on the right side of the page. It includes a listing for KFC biscuits. The odd ingredient in that recipe is club soda. Good luck.

            1. re: susanl143

              Good catch Susan, that recipe with the club soda is interesting.

              Here is a different link to the recipe I linked to above. Again, it is the same CI recipe only the poster has added pictures and all the steps in the CI recipe.

              You are supposed to pull them apart at the end like shown, to release the last bit of steam. This thread is too enticing. I am definitely making them this weekend!


            2. re: TrishUntrapped

              I like the directions on it for using a food processor. The short pulses are key and even with that, I find I can easily overmix it. I like the cake flour in the CI recipe I posted but more baking powder is a good idea. Maybe I'll combine the two.

            3. Recipe I use is;

              2c flour (AP- part cake flour or cornstarch would be a bit lighter)
              1 Tb baking powder
              1/2 tsp. baking soda
              2 oz butter
              1 tsp salt
              3/4 c. buttermilk

              375/ 20 min (fairly crusty biscuits)

              This is a bit more leavening and liquid than most recipes, and comes out quite light. I cut the butter in roughly and then rub it in. Cold butter works best.

              6 Replies
              1. re: oldunc

                Cold butter does, indeed work best for the most-searched desired result, which is: layers more strata-like than those apparently being requested by the poster. Hence my suggestion to use warmer butter. Not WARM, mind you: just not ice-cold. (It' might help if I explain that to make my biscuits, I routinely actually freeze the butter I plan to incorporate.) It's the "sheets" of butter that collect between the flour layers that lend "flakiness" as opposed to a more cohesive, moist result. The posted result is MY ideal: a tall totally flaky steaming biscuit. The KFC is less-risen and clearly not ask flaky. :)
                Refer to my above comment about there being more experienced bakers, on and on, while I slink away.

                1. re: mamachef

                  I've heard people say freezing butter and then grating it helps but I've never tried it.

                  As flaky biscuits go, CI also has a recipe for that, that uses a small amount of shortening to butter. I like that one, too. It's a rolled and cut recipe and you fold the dough. LOL as experienced bakers go, I always wish I had a southern grandmother who could teach me how to make biscuits and an Italian grandmother to show me how to make pasta properly, I've had to rely on books, TV shows and CHers (who've been invaluable).

                  This thread has me thinking biscuits--we'll be having those tonight, along w/ chicken and gravy since the chicken and waffles thread has me thinking of that.

                  1. re: chowser

                    It has me headed in the same direction for dinner at home this evening, too. :)

                    1. re: chowser

                      Old Southern Great Grand Mommas used lard in biscuits....Use Shortening!!! Save the butter to put *on* the biscuits instead of *in* the dough ~~~

                      Ok! If you just insist on using butter....At least use 1/2 butter...1/2 shortening! ;)

                      Luck & Fun!

                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        Yeah, I'll bet good lard makes a big difference.

                    2. re: mamachef

                      I have a fairly cool hand, and I find by the time it's rubbed in it's about as warm as I'd want.

                  2. You've reminded me to do a little work on this. While I prefer my own biscuit to the chains, I've been curious as to how to replicate their texture.

                    My guess is that they contain less fat than homemade (which is why they're not flaky) and probably more leavening and liquid. Also, I'm sure the fat is some relatively inexpensive hydrogenated veg oil, not butter or lard. Probably soft wheat flour and a greater degree of mixing/kneading than homemade, which would point toward the "pillowy vs flaky" texture. Finally, they're generally baked so they touch, hence the lack of crispyness on the sides..

                    If i have any revelations, you'll be the first to know.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: rjbh20

                      Also a very good chance they're using a leavening agent not available at your local market.

                      1. re: rjbh20

                        If you want pillowy.... the recipe I posted is the bomb.

                        1. The KFC website lists these ingredients: Enriched Bleached Flour, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel, Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Buttermilk, Sugar, Baking Soda, Salt, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Nonfat Milk, Sodium Caseinate, DATEM, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Whey, Wheat Protein Isolate, Natural Flavor. Liquid and Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soybean Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavor, TBHO and Citric Acid Added to Protect Flavor, Beta Carotene (Color), Dimethylpolysidoxane, an Anti-foaming Agent Added.

                          So... no butter, both BP and soda, and the always-tasty TBHO.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: bakergal

                            Wow, that's some list of nasty ingredients.

                            1. re: bakergal

                              Ewww and we actually eat these!! I'm thinking the reason mine don't come out like theirs is I don't seem to have any Whey Protein Concentrate or Isolate in the house! Never mind the other nasty sounding items on that list! What on earth is TBHO??? I think that's the last KFC biscuit I'll ever have sadly.

                              1. re: nsstampqueen

                                Its TBHQ, not THBO. Full name is tertiary butylhydroquinone which is a common antioxidant used in edible fats (and lots of other food products) to extend their shelf life. Despite the scary name, nothing to fret about, though if you're of the organic persuasion you probably ought to pass.

                                1. re: nsstampqueen

                                  Which are the nastiest sounding ingredients, and which are really nasty? Which are in your jar of baking powder?

                                  Touch-of-Grace Biscuits from food scientist Shirley Corriher are supposed to be some of the lightest biscuits around. The dough is so wet you have to use floured hands to handle it. They are baked in a rimmed pan to help support the loose dough.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Shirley's method of rolling the dough in balls and baking in a rimmed pan is the same as the CI recipe I linked to and I do think that helps make a soft, pillowy biscuit.

                                    The extraneous softening and preserving crap (TBHQ, DATEM, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate) in KFC's recipe is not needed when you make your own.

                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                      Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate is a common acid component of baking powder.

                                      is an ester; a dough conditioner and softener; not something that a home cook uses, but that does not mean it is extraneous for the purposes of this commercial baking.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        My point is that these chemicals are not needed for homemade biscuits. A lot of crap is used in commercial baking, but if you make your own products you can avoid them.

                                        Sometimes reproducing commercial quality products isn't easy. But in this case, delicious pillowy homemade biscuits can be made easily without all the extra chems.

                                    2. re: paulj

                                      I tried Shirley's recipe and though it wasn't anything like KFC's, I really liked them. I think I need to adjust the heat down a bit for my oven though, because they were very brown on top before they were completely cooked. I wouldn't use them for shortcake, because they are way too soft, but the flavor was really nice and great with butter and jam.

                                  2. re: bakergal

                                    I just love those things in my food. The more, the betterNOT. :)

                                  3. I found this online at the KFC website:

                                    Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel, Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Buttermilk, Sugar, Baking Soda, Salt, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Nonfat Milk, Sodium Caseinate, DATEM, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Whey, Wheat Protein Isolate, Natural Flavor. Liquid and Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soybean Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavor, TBHO and Citric Acid Added to Protect Flavor, Beta Carotene (Color), Dimethylpolysidoxane, an Anti-foaming Agent Added.

                                    Bad news, in oh so many ways. Further reason why NOT to eat at KFC.

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. re: paulj

                                        uh-hh....eighty-seven and a half?

                                    1. @bakergal best me to it - I shouldn't be so lazy about reading ALL of the posts before I post!

                                      1. This is supposed to be a traditional southern biscuit. I found the less you mix, the lighter the biscuit. If you are not afraid of lard, use half of it and half shortening. Lard makes a lighter and fluffier biscuit. Mix only until the shortening is in lumps. No more. I do not knead the dough. I roll and use a canning jar ring to cut out the biscuits, it makes the right size and the right height for us. Good luck.

                                        • 2 cups all-purpose flour
                                        • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
                                        • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
                                        • 2 tablespoons butter, cold
                                        • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, cold
                                        • 1 cup milk
                                        Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of the cold butter and the cold shortening and work it into the dry ingredients, using your hands, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk. The dough will be sticky. Dust your work surface with some flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface. Gently fold each side toward the center. Pick up the dough and dust the work surface with additional flour. Return the dough to the floured surface and fold each side towards the center again. Turn the dough over and press it out to 1-inch thickness. Cut the biscuits, straight down, do not twist the cutter, with a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and add to a 10-inch round cake pan. Place the biscuits in the pan, turning once (to coat both sides with butter), about 1/4-inch apart. Let the biscuits rest for 15 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

                                        22 Replies
                                        1. re: teddiwalk

                                          I can't make a decent biscuit to save my life and I've tried all of these things I guess I just need to keep doing it until I get it right but I'd be thrilled to make a biscuit like the ones in your pictures:(

                                          1. re: tidecreek

                                            tidecreek, my AHA! moment with biscuits stemmed from a Southern Living article which stated a sharp-edged cutter is key. I'd used a glass for years, emulating my Grandmother, but realized that the lip was too rounded and smooth. Using a sharper edged cutter made ALL the difference in the world.

                                            1. re: shanagain

                                              Great point! I've read that you need to be careful not to smoosh the delicate layers of any dough together when cutting it.

                                            2. re: tidecreek


                                              Try the http://pinchmysalt.com\
                                              Comprehensive directions with PICTURES as to what it looks like while doing it. I love this site. Also explains the differences in flours. Very educational.

                                              1. re: teddiwalk

                                                I am bothered that I did not see anything about using non-aluminum baking powder here. Regardless of your health beliefs, aluminium baking powder imparts a harsh flavor to your baked goods that is AWFUL.

                                            3. re: teddiwalk

                                              As my heritage lies in the South (Tennessee), I had the wonderful experience of watching both Grandmas, numerous Aunts and cousins make those wonderful biscuits they made every day. I still can smell and certainly will always remember the aromas of those biscuits as they came out of their ovens!. Eating them was even better! Some of the relatives used lard, some used butter and Crisco. In either case, they all used Buttermilk to make their biscuits. Following in their foot steps, I always use Buttermilk in my biscuits - it makes them lighter and fluffier. Also, I remember one of my Grandma's telling me not to handle the biscuit dough very much or they "wouldn't be very good." So, I continue to make buttermilk biscuits without handling the dough very much! When the dough forms together (dough may be sticky), that's it. Knead it a few times (not much), on a lightly floured surface, roll it out, or press it out, cut it (straight through - no twisting the cutter) and bake them in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes. That's it - southern style.biscuits as taught by southern women a long time ago...

                                              1. re: gardener3

                                                Nice memories and very helpful instructions. Thanks for sharing.

                                                1. re: gardener3

                                                  You are so right. Buttermilk is a must for flaky biscuits. We don't use enough buttermilk to warrant buying it, so I do use the dry buttermilk and it keeps forever. lol. It is used a lot in Christmas baking. My mother used tomato sauce or shake and bake for any dinner. lol.. I had to learn to cook to be able to eat anything. And I still don't like shake and bake. lol

                                                  1. re: teddiwalk

                                                    When we lived in a rural part of CO for 6 years, I bought the powderd buttermilk; it works just as well as the liquid in my opinion. However, if you are ever in a pinch for lack of buttermilk, you can always use milk with a little vinegar. For every cup of milk use a tablespoon of vinegar; let it stand for a few minutes before using. It does work, however, not really as good as the real thing - but a decent substitute! Continued good luck with your baking and cooking!

                                                    1. re: gardener3

                                                      I was just looking at biscuit and scone recipes in Bittmans 'Everything' book. His basic recipe uses buttermilk (actually he prefers yogurt). He writes that if you don't have either don't use 'soured milk', instead just use the variation using plain milk. Plain milk biscuits just baking powder; buttermilk recipes use baking soda, or both.

                                                      It would be interesting to make biscuits using buttermilk, dry buttermilk, and milk (with appropriate adjustments in bp/s), and compare the results in a blind taste.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        As I said previously, "soured" milk does not taste as good as the real thing, but, it is decent. I personally no longer make biscuits without having liquid buttermilk on hand - mainly because I always have a1/2 gallon in the fridge - but I have used "soured" milk in other recipes with good results. I guess my Southern heritage comes to the fore when it comes to true Southern cooking/baking. My TN cousins (and I - of course), are still making those wonderful, traditional biscuits like our relatives of long ago did. Yes, I agree with you, it would be interesting to make biscuits with the different products for a comparison in a blind taste. Good luck with that...have fun...

                                                      2. re: gardener3

                                                        Have to admit as we have gotten older and trying to be healthier, although we know we are going to die of something, we use 1% milk. It makes my doctor happy, but lacks any cream to sour with vinegar. I do keep a pint of whipping cream in the fridge for emergencies where buttermilk is necessary. Please don't tell the doctor. lol..

                                                        1. re: teddiwalk

                                                          teddiwalk, that's funny...
                                                          We are older (in our 60's), and have used non-fat milk in our family since my husband's bloodwork detected high cholesterol (and diabetes) in the early 70's. Both are well controlled now, and we still have non-fat milk in our fridge. I, too, keep heavy cream in the fridge for those occasions when nothing but cream will work well in a recipe. Thank God my father was a chef, owned a restaurant when I was growing up, and our oldest son is an accomplished chef - so we work out recipes together and adapt them to make them healthier. But not always, I have to admit! There are just some things that don't taste the same when you try to make them healthier. And, then that brings us back to the biscuits! lol...

                                                          1. re: gardener3

                                                            I just knew we were not alone in this healthy thing. lol I know there is low fat buttermilk but it just is not the same. It does not give the taste nor the texture as the "real" thing. Not as a plug, but the only diet or health food book I found is "Eating Well". They are also on the net and have a lot of flavor. Being from New Mexico, I love spice and luckily so does my DH.. I figure this way, as I explained to the dr. '" I cannot give up every thing to live an hour or day longer. Cannot give up fried oysters, fried shrimp, nor real biscuits". Just accept that I will have these every once in a while. We are supposed to enjoy life and eating boiled chicken is not what we consider enjoyment. ROFLOL!!

                                                          2. re: teddiwalk

                                                            On the positive side, the buttermilk sold at supermarkets in my area of Connecticut is always either low fat or non fat. I never come across just regular buttermilk.

                                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                              I'm not sure is such a thing as 'regular buttermilk'. Cultured buttermilk is supposed to imitate the milk that was leftover after butter making.

                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                Not all buttermilk has the same amount of fat content.

                                                                What I call 'regular' buttermilk (cultured whole milk buttermilk) has 160 calories, and a whopping 8 grams of fat per 8 ounces.

                                                                Lowfat buttermilk has approximately 98 calories, and 2.2 grams fat.
                                                                Fat Free (Nonfat) buttermilk has 90 calories, 0 fat.

                                                                While 1% milk, has between 100 -110 calories, and between 2-2.5 grams fat.

                                                                The 1% milk is very comparable to the lowfat butter milk calories and fat wise, so lowfat or nonfat buttermilk are good choices.

                                                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                  Here in Minnesota we get only 1%. We have no choices!

                                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                    Ya' know I could drink buttermilk if I did not have to see the empty glass. lol

                                                                    1. re: teddiwalk

                                                                      When I was a very young child, I remember on many occasions my Dad giving me a small glass of buttermilk with corn bread broken up in it. An old Southern thing, I guess. That really doesn't appeal to me now, but at the time, we didn't know any different! It was part of growing up...lol

                                                                      1. re: gardener3

                                                                        Haha..... I still make cornbread, no sugar, and my dh eats a bowl of milk and cornbread for supper when nothing else sounds good. He loves it. I have not tried it but do like cornmeal for breakfast. Mush if possible. Fried! Oh drat, there I go again. lol

                                                                        1. re: gardener3

                                                                          This Old Southerner still mushes up cornbread in buttermilk! And, growing up, if we didn't have cornbreak (a sacrilege in itself), we'd use [soda] crackers! Does anyone call 'em soda crackers anymore? (And yes, I know this is a 2011 note.)

                                                      3. Alton Brown's buttermilk biscuits really remind me of Popeye's (a fried chicken chain) biscuits, and I mean that in a good way - very rich and buttery and fluffy. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...
                                                        They are nothing like my southern mama's biscuits, which are baking powder biscuits from the back of the Clabber Girl can (she says), but none of us can recreate them. My grandmother always used Bisquick but visits to her were more about the company. I make buttermilk biscuits myself (though not ones as rich as the ones I linked above), but I admit to using a smidge of cream of tartar!

                                                        1. I don't see too much of a difference in yours and KFC's biscuits, maybe a little less flour on top, but yours look fantastic!! Better than mine any day. I am also searching the net to find how I can make mine fluffier and taller.

                                                          1. back in the day when I worked at KFC I made a zillion of those biscuits.

                                                            They came from a tube. I suspect it might have something to do with the fat.